The importance of Focus in Business Execution

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On March 16, 2018

If you’re serious about scaling up your company to prepare it to grow dynamically you’re aware that you have to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. If you hesitate to act—you may miss out. That’s part of the DNA of an entrepreneur. As an executive business coach I work with entrepreneurs all the time. Their ability to say yes to challenges is inspiring. But there’s another side to that coin. You simply can’t say, “Yes” to everything. I’d like to remind you that sometimes “NO” isn’t a dirty word. Let’s talk briefly about the importance of focus in business execution in order to achieve your company’s goals.

Even some of the most innovative, creative, and driven entrepreneurs understood that it’s impossible to pursue every opportunity. Here’s something Apple founder, Steve Jobs, said at an Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in 1997.

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.

As your company grows you’ll be faced with all kinds of opportunities. The bigger you get, the more choices you’ll face. It’s exciting. It’s challenging. It holds incredible promise. But it can be deadly. If you pursue too many different courses, you’ll lose your focus, you’ll find it difficult to execute your business strategy, you’ll burn out you people, and you’ll burn through your cash.

I’ve written before about how important it is to execute well if you want to grow your company. It doesn’t matter how great your goals are or how good your people are. If you don’t execute your plans well, you’re not going to grow. But that in order to execute well, you have to be crystal clear on what your goals and plans are. You need to remember your business focus. And that goes back to making sure you are staying true to your vision.

When was the last time you reviewed your corporate vision? That kind of exercise is so important as you begin growing your company. If you and your team aren’t absolutely clear (and committed) to your vision, it’s going to be impossible to develop and execute your strategic plans. Here’s a previous post that walks you through a tool for creating a Vision Summary. It also offers another critical tool to help you execute—a One Page Strategic Plan.

You may find that there are a lot of opportunities you have to say, “No” to. But before you do that, you’ll have to say, “Yes” to your vision and your strategic plan. That will keep you from diverting your time, energy, and money to “good” pursuits that may keep you from being great. By the way, here are three simple (non-scientific) tests to see if you’re really on track with your vision.

By the way, if you’re not experiencing the kind of growth you want, take this quick business scalability assessment that can show you why. It’s the first step toward being able to say yes to the things that really matter.